The key for the droves of people facing redundancy right now? Look elsewhere

Recently, the focus has been on how companies can survive COVID-19. But there hasn't been much discussion about the people experiencing redundancy as a result of those cost-cutting measures, Kate Richardson explains, or the reality that they may have to look to other industries to find a new job.

Right now, there’s a lot of sage advice for agencies and media businesses on how to weather the storm and come out the other side. But there’s not much on what to do if you get made redundant.

When I lost my job some years back, I promptly went out and found another one. It was a better gig, it paid more and gave me some brilliant opportunities. But this time around, it won’t be that easy because there are more people looking than hiring.

So, what do you do if you lose your job?

There’s been a lot of chatter about how businesses can survive, but not the people experiencing a redundancy as a result of those cost-cutting measures

More than anything, you’ll have to let go of ‘the plan’ and lean into the idea of ‘future possibilities’.

Take it in

Losing your job surfaces both anxieties and financial realities, but it’s essential to take time to sit with what’s happened, and allow yourself to feel all those crappy feelings.

Keep checking in with yourself, practice your version of mindfulness, get support and load up on self-care.

Otherwise, your early actions will be coloured by the pain and fear you’re experiencing. Whether it’s a few days or a few weeks, take the time to acknowledge what’s happened.

Because work is so deeply connected to our identity, losing your job can be really destabilising. Often these feelings are compounded by a sense of being ‘singled out’, but in the case of COVID-19, job losses will be as indiscriminate as the virus itself.

Reflect on your values and strengths

There is no better moment to connect with what’s important to you (your values) and what you’re brilliant at (your strengths).

Let’s start with values.

Along with beliefs, values are the primary influence on our conscious decision-making. They’re the things we think are genuinely important so they influence much of what we do.

You’ll make a lot of decisions in the coming months like whether to take a job, shift industries, join a company, or move on from your current career.

Knowing your values will help you make better decisions and navigate uncertainty, and if you decide to make a shift, they’ll be your guide.

Get clear on your strengths

Don’t just think about what you’re good at but what energises you.

A true strength (or super power) is where your energy is, it’s when you feel most confident and in flow.

Most people don’t know what their strengths are, or they’re not good at articulating them. This is the time to get clear on yours.

You’ll need to imagine different career possibilities, so focusing on your strengths, and how they might help you thrive in a different arena will be essential.

Here are a few ways to get started:

1. Set the clock for 60 seconds and write down 15 things you’re really great at.

2. Revisit three occasions in work and life when you were at your best, when you felt a strong sense of achievement, energised and confident. What was the activity you gained energy from?

3. Ask yourself what other people say about you when you walk out of the room? What stories do they tell about you time and time again? It’s a useful question to reflect on as we often have blind spots as far as strengths go.

From here, you should be able to hone in on three things you’re absolutely brilliant at, and energised by. These are your super powers.

The three themes

You’ll need to learn to talk about yourself in a way that is short and sharp.

It’s very easy to go into a job interview or conversation and start rattling off a catalogue of your employment.

But if you can learn to talk about yourself succinctly, you’ll up your confidence, turn disparate threads into a coherent career narrative, and better position yourself for a role in an adjacent industry or career.

This is where the ‘three themes’ technique comes in.

Instead of rambling on about your last few jobs, say something like:

“The three themes that define my career are transforming teams, championing innovation and designing experiences people love.” Then practice talking about your version of each one for 20-30 seconds.

Think of it as what you want to be known for – your strengths combined with the impact you’ve had.

Imagining future possibilities

It’s unlikely everyone made redundant will find a job back in the industry.

And your first response to this is likely to be, “If I don’t do XYZ, then what will I do? I need to figure out the answer.”

But this will create anxiety and inertia.

When it comes to changing your career or taking a side step, forget about ‘the answer’, and embrace the concept of future possibilities because there are lots of different directions you could take.

You may need to think of practical ideas that are about income rather than an ideal.

But I’d also encourage you to open your mind to possibilities that are aligned with your values and strengths, and could turn out to be your ideal gig.

They might be clear or fuzzy, short or long term. And they might feel scary.

But as long as you can imagine and identify possibilities for your future, you can take action to explore and test them today.

Got a vague thought about UX? Do a short course. Join a meet up. Get advice from five people in your network. Take on a volunteer project. Design your own experience.

Trying out new activities and roles on a small scale before making a major commitment helps you break down big leaps into small steps, and turn vague ideas into concrete possibilities

You’ll feel a whole lot less pressure. And you’re more likely to find an opportunity you really want.

Kate Richardson is an adland escapee and executive coach, career mentor and facilitator at career development and training practice, katerichardson.co


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